Three months ago my outlook on life completely changed. I had no idea becoming a parent would make me reconsider so many things I held to be true. In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Jesus lived his life. On the streets. Hanging out with the rejects. Stirring up trouble. Making all sorts of people angry.
Then I think about his call to each of us. The call to pick up our cross and follow him. The call to leave our family behind. The call to make him our #1 priority.
And then I get scared. Terrified in fact.
Because if I’m completely honest with myself, I’m not sure I want to live my life the way Jesus lived his. I don’t want to live on the streets. In all actuality, I’m not sure I could survive on the streets. And as much as I’d like to say I’m comfortable hanging out with the rejects … well … I’m really not.
Stirring up trouble … now there’s something I can do. But only sort of. Because if getting arrested and making people angry are involved … well, I am likely to draw the line before that happens.
So instead of getting out there and doing it myself, I read stories of people who are doing it. Stories of people giving up everything to rescue the prostitutes on the street. People who take time to really engage in conversation with the homeless on the street. Not just in passing, but lengthy, honest conversations. People who travel across the world to be the gospel to those in third world countries.
I want to want that life. I want to be brave enough to sell all my possessions and move my family to another part of the world. I want to be bold enough to engage in conversation with the homeless mom and her daughter that I see at least once a week.
But I’m not.
Maybe that’s not what I’m called to. Maybe I’m called to be radical in other ways. In the way I spend my money. In the way I cook my food. In the way I tell the stories of those who are doing.
But when I think about Jesus’ life, I just can’t help but wonder what he would think about today’s world. Would he think some of us play bigger roles than others in bringing about the kingdom of God? Or would he see every act, big or small, as just one piece of a much larger puzzle?
We all have different skills, gifts, and talents. And I know that each one of us is called to something different. I used to believe that we were all called to live radical lives. Sell our possessions and minister to the poor. Jump out of our comfort zones and trust that Jesus would protect us.
But I just can’t bring myself to do it anymore.
And I’m left wondering just how I can live a radical life while making sure my family is healthy and safe. What used to seem so obvious doesn’t feel so obvious now that I have someone else to take care of.
I end up going full circle. Thinking about how Jesus lived his life. Feeling like I’m living a life of hypocrisy because I don’t want to live the life he did.
And wondering if I will ever be brave enough to stir up trouble the way he did.
I really love this. I have wrestled often it’s what radical following looks like, or look like and sometimes I feel crazy like I wants to sell it all and live totally opposite of how I do now, and other days I feel completely terrified of what it might really look like to live a radical faith because I have these carpet-bagging gypsy images flit through my head and I think I can’t really give everything up… For me it always comes back to fear. I have allowed my fear to hold me back from praying the hard prayers and letting God really break my heart. The good news is, lately He’s been working hard on me and breaking my heart for I’m and you know, radical following doesn’t always mean leaving everything and flying to a 3rd world country. I can follow radically right here, in other ways, in ways He is calling me to. I’ve never been more uncomfortably comfortable in my faith like I am now. I’m learning that I citrusy Him with this stuff and I don’t have to be so afraid of what it will mean…. Thanks for this post, it was excellent!
There’s some type-o’s in there that my iPad refuses to allow me to fix! Argh. Sorry about that!
That dang auto-correct 😉 I think I figured it all out!
I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one struggling with this. I think you are exactly right – radical following can happen right where we are … I’m just trying to figure out what that looks like!
Thanks so much for your comment!!
Me too, terrified. I’m too attached to American comforts. God help us, change us, use us!
I love that prayer … I think I may put it on my bulletin board in my “office” … and say it over and over and over again. God help us, change us, use us …
You’ve opened a can of questions in my heart too.
Except this: I WANT to live like He did.
I just don’t. have. the. nerve.
He certainly was a gutsy man … but I guess you can do that when you’re God. Prayers for you as you wrestle with the questions.
I wonder if when we feel that terrified, it is then we are nearer to the place we need to be.
That’s when we finally … trust
What a wonderful way of looking at it. I guess we are always terrified just before we make a plunge into trusting … for now, I’ll pray through the fear.
Thanks for stopping by!
Psalm 46: Be still and know that I am God… While you are praying and listening to God, He will tell you how He needs you, what He needs you, when He needs you . . . to take action. For this moment, your insights, your love of family and your desire to share His message are exactly where He wants you to be +++
Thanks Elke … right now I’m not so sure I’m exactly where God wants me to be … and I think you’re right that God lets us know the right time to move … but in the end, we have to make the decision to move when called. That’s not always an easy thing to do!
When Jesus told us to ‘follow Him’, He NEVER said to ‘copy Him’. There are plenty of things we CAN do. For instance, what has stopped you from having that conversation with the homeless mother and child? What, exactly, would that ‘cost’ you? If you were to be so ‘radical’ that you ended up in jail…or worse, exactly what could you do for Him from there? Do you really think that’s the plan He has for your life? Especially now, since you have a child totally dependent upon you? I firmly believe that if you simply pray, and ask Him to show you the ways he wants you to help His cause (then listen CAREFULLY for the answers) you WILL get those answers. Some things you ALREADY know. (Why does he continue to put the mother and child in your path?) Are you able to give more than you already do without jeopardizing your family’s future? We can usually find a way to do this without harming our families. Do we REALLY need all of those cable channels? Can we learn to do with less? Are we guilty of waste? Can we possibly cut our food bills by at least 25% without letting our family go hungry? Do we ‘waste’ money on ‘fast food’? Can’t we prepare our own lunches and those for our family? There are also many other ways of ‘giving’ that don’t require money at all. Doing anything at all to help improve our world is the first step along His path.
I’m sorry to sound so ‘preachy’, and I know that many of us already do these things. I’m simply pointing out that we don’t all need to do something ‘spectacular’ in order to be that change in the world that we want to be. Remember; ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step’.
G-d Bless Us All,